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Monday, July 6, 2009

The Goalie on the Bench.

Hockey Lessons
Life Lessons from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
Why doesn't life go as planned? The answer to that question often gets back to who is doing the planning. No one ever plans on being born, but once they get here, boy do they want to be in charge of the planning!

People often see the design in their lives in retrospect. Such is the case of Steve Janaszak. By 1979 Steve had already been goalie of two national championship teams at the university of Minnesota. He had just been voted Most Valuable Player of the 1979 squad. His coach, Herb Brooks, had just been selected to helm the U.S. Olympic team. Most pundits figured Herb would choose Jany as his starting goalie for the U.S. No one expected him to be an MVP again, not when going against the vaunted Soviet Union and other hockey powerhouses, but no one expected him to be an asterisk either.

Twelve hockey teams represented their countries in 1980. Twenty players per team, 240 in all. 239 of them played in the Olympics. Only Jany rode the bench the entire event. Coach Brooks had prepared him for this eventuality, that Jim Craig was going to be His only goalie for the Olympics. On the face of it this did not make sense, many of the games were very close, but there were some games that Jany could have easily got some time in.

Janaszak took the entire situation as a pro. Early each morning he took practice shots from his assistant coach, so he would be ready if called upon. Instead of being bitter, aloof and distant from his teammates, he remained positive. Off the ice he bonded with his teammates going to the Olympic Village, hanging out and watching movies together. On one such occasion he encountered an interpreter working in the complex. That interpreter eventually became his wife.

Imagine if it was too much for the NCAA MVP to play the part of back-up. Or if he just went through the motions, and kept to himself at the Olympics hiding in his room, feeling sorry for himself. He might not be the contented husband and father of two daughters that he is now. Janaszak, states in retrospect there is no question what he would rather have the personal glory or the family he has been given. It may have been different if things went as he had planned.

I think there is a little in the Janaszak's story in many how did you meet your spouse stories. I would love to h ear yours. If things went by my plans I would have already been on the mission field by 1990 and not still in college. This means I would have not met my wife in 1990. At least not in the student union of Western Illinois University. Some people call it luck, others a happy accident. I call it the providential hand of God. Just a reminder that life does go as planned. Especially when we're not the ones doing the planning.

Next Time: Free

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